Emma Watson

Emma Watson plays Belle in "Beauty and the Beast."

A tale as old as time is being told in a positively enchanting new light. Disney managed to outdo its own animated production with its live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast.” This film will have you completely entranced from the first time Emma Watson’s face lights up the screen as Belle all the way through the credits.

Directed by Bill Condon, the film took the classic, polished storyline and added in comedic dialogue and subplots that modernized the original film. In addition to supplementary dialogue, the film features new songs and scenes that expand the story to add insight into Belle’s family life and background.

Watson was absolutely a real-life Belle, the epitome of gentleness, beauty, courage and a leading woman. This part perfectly paired with her role as a women’s activist in real life. 

However, there’s been a lot of controversy over Watson being cast since she’s British and Belle is supposed to be French. Watson kept her British accent for the film, which wasn’t distracting, but was slightly peculiar when people in the market were speaking French. 

It should be noted that Watson was actually born in Paris, France, which adds to the continuous theme of French culture in the film, and that in Disney’s original “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle had an American accent, not a French one.

The way that Watson’s singing voice was placed in the movie was also a little odd. The producers altered her vocals in a way that covered the raw, natural quality of her simple voice in an unnatural way. Her vocals could be heard underneath the revamping of her vocals, but it would’ve sounded even more graceful and elegant if they hadn’t played with her singing voice so much.

Josh Gad, well-known for voicing Olaf from “Frozen,” played LeFou, Gaston’s quirky sidekick. Gad played Lefou impeccably, but there were moments when his lines resembled Olaf’s, making one wonder if it was on purpose.

The remake played off LeFou’s chosen servitude to Gaston (played by Luke Evans) in the original movie and decided to portray him as gay. However, the film seemed to excessively point this out in a way that seemed as though it was meant to be humorous rather than just another detail of the movie that Disney might not have explicitly stated in the original film.

Condon utilized his creative liberty with the costume choices at the beginning of the film when the Beast is still a man. Due to makeup, the Beast’s human face couldn’t really be seen in the first scene, unlike the original film. This decision was extremely effective because it enhanced the impact of seeing the Beast’s human face after he transforms. This enables the viewer to see the Beast as a man for the first time right when Belle does. 

While the new film is a live-action movie, there are still a lot of characters that had to be animated, such as the talking candelabra Lumiere and the talking pendulum clock Cogsworth. While a difficult task to accomplish, the producers managed to keep these characters from seeming too childish. In fact, some scenes might be a little too scary for kids due to the excellent animation of the wolves, for example.

That being said, while the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” would definitely grab the attention of younger viewers, an older audience would appreciate all of the wondrous details and expansions of the original tale so much more.

Through this remake, Condon doesn’t bring viewers back to their childhood, but brings their childhood back to them to experience it in a new and beautiful light that truly makes “Beauty and the Beast” a tale as old as time. 

Shanna Kelly is a freshman media arts and design and Spanish double major. Contact Shanna at kelly3sc@dukes.jmu.edu.

Shanna Kelly is a double major in SMAD (journalism) and Spanish with a double minor in translation and interpretation and honors interdisciplinary studies. In addition to The Breeze, Shanna is also an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta.